Protect Yourself From a Conspiracy Conviction
Conspiracy theories are incredibly common in everyday life these days — especially online — but criminal conspiracies are a whole another beast. Being accused of conspiring to commit a crime can irreparably damage a defendant’s reputation, impacting career prospects, relationships, and future.
These accusations should never be thrown around lightly, and anyone facing a conspiracy charge should only trust their case to a dedicated white-collar defense attorney.
What Is Conspiracy?
Conspiracy can be charged on either a state or federal level, depending on the circumstances of the alleged crime.
In California, conspiracy is defined under Penal Code 182 as when two or more individuals agree to commit a crime and at least one participant takes steps to commit the crime. Participants do not have to actually commit the crime or attempt it; they simply need to have begun the process of committing one. This can include planning a robbery, conspiring to blackmail a government official, or purchasing a weapon with the intent to murder someone.
On a federal level, conspiracy is defined according to 18 U.S.C. § 371, which utilizes the same definition as California but applies to scenarios where the federal government has jurisdiction. This may include cases involving conspiracies to defraud the federal government, perhaps involving wire fraud, or conspiracies that involve crimes that cross state lines. If two or more individuals conspired to traffic drugs between California and Nevada, then the case would be handled by a federal prosecutor.
Despite only applying to specific areas of jurisdiction, federal conspiracy charges are extremely common. Conspiracy laws by nature are broad, allowing prosecutors to file these charges with relative ease. In fact, the prosecution only needs to prove two points to secure a conspiracy conviction in federal court:
- Two or more individuals agreed to commit a crime; and
- One participant took steps to commit the crime.
The agreement between the participants does not have to have been verbal or written down. The prosecution simply has to show that two individuals worked together to commit a crime. The prosecution also does not have to show that the crime was successful or attempted, only that a participant took steps to commit the crime. Purchasing tools to dispose of a body, for example, along with a confession from one participant, can result in a charge of conspiracy to commit murder for both participants, possibly resulting in damaging criminal convictions.
How Do I Beat a Conspiracy Charge?
While it is easy to accuse someone of conspiracy, defending against it requires the strong representation of a skilled criminal defense firm. At Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP, our legal team has defended numerous clients in state and federal courts. We can use our expertise in felony cases to build a thorough defense on your behalf, which may include:
- There was no agreement to commit a crime.
- There was no overt act or attempt to commit a crime.
- There was no intent to commit the crime.
- You planned to commit a crime but withdrew your support for the conspiracy.
If you or someone you love has been charged with conspiracy, contact Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP online or call us at (213) 688-0460.